In February, a UK based foundation called Raspberry Pi Foundation took the developers by storm by launching the Raspberry Pi, which is a credit card sized single-board computer. The device was launched with intention of motivating the education of basic computer science in schools.
The Raspberry Pi comes with a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC) which houses an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor, VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 megabytes of RAM. It does not come with hard disk or solid state drive, but uses an SD card for booting and internal storage instead. What made it even more amazing is its $35 price tag. The $35 Raspberry Pi ARM board attracted enormous demand when it launched in February because of its low cost, which makes it affordable for low cost embedded projects, but the 700MHz ARM11 board cannot offer much in terms of raw performance. There wasn’t any other option available back then, but now there is.
A Korean hardware company called Hardkernel is launching a high end substitute of the popular Raspberry Pi. The board is christened as ODROID-X board and comes with a Samsung Exynos 4 processor, which is a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.4GHz. Apart from the powerful quad core processor, the board also offers 1 gigabyte of RAM, a Mali 400 GPU, six USB ports, ethernet, audio in/out, Micro HDMI and an SDHC reader.
ODROID-X comes with 1 gig of RAM, which is four times as much RAM as the Raspberry Pi offers. Combined with the quad core Exynos processor, this board seems to have solved all the weak points of Raspberry Pi and is a viable option for computationally intensive usage scenarios. The Raspberry Pi measures 3.370 × 2.125 inches, on the other hand, besides ODROID-X offering so much more, the board is highly compact at 3.5 x 3.7 inches.
As this Korean board is uses Cortex-A9, which in turn uses the ARMv7 architecture, the board is capable of running Ubuntu right out of the box. Raspberry Pi is powered 700 MHz ARM1176JZF single core processor which uses ARM11 architecture, and Ubuntu doesn’t support that, however, Raspberry Pi foundation recommends users to use Fedora instead.
Of course, good things come at a price and you get what you pay for. This Hardkernel board can be yours for $129. Yes, there is a big price difference compared to Raspberry Pi’s $35 price tag, but ODROID-X offers so much more. Besides, one cannot complain much as the PandaBoard ES which is based on a dual-core 1GHz ARM CPU and 1GB of RAM costs $183.
ODROID-X board doesn’t come in a fancy case as such, but boots Google Android 4.0.4 right out of the box. The same company also sells ODROID-Q, a 10.1” tablet with a Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core CPU at $850. ODROID-X is a cheaper alternative for developers to get running. Given its flexibility, it could be the heart of your next DIY project.
The number of hobbyist-centric ARM boards is increasing day by day. Boards at range of prices and hardware specifications are available. Hopefully, somebody will release a board with Intel Ivy Bridge on board soon.